Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Puente first hit the national radar with a 2006 article in the NY Times which profiled three musicians who found music as a “late-in-life” second career. The Times article noted that Puente’s “music did not take a serious turn until he and his family moved in 1999 from Brooklyn to Mohegan Colony…there he joined neighbors in an informal band, playing tunes by Woody Guthrie and the Carter family, among others.” After being challenged by his brother Eric (who plays drums on two tracks on the new disc, Puente said that the songs “came pouring out like mad”. My Brothers Banned’s first disc, Come With Me, was released in 2006 and Puetne wrote eight of the disc’s eleven songs.
In an interview with Music Moods, Puente said that “the band concept was to create melodic music based on harmony”. That is exactly what you have on this new eleven track (37 minute) disc - rich vocal harmonies combined with ringing guitars and a Phil Spector-style richly textured wall of sound. The lyrics are almost secondary to the music with the vocals conveying mood and texture - more than imparting importance through the words themselves.
This time out, Puente is joined by harmony vocalists Hillary Levitt (who has been a long-time collaborator), Margaret Canning and Patti Rothberg; the later sings on five on the disc’s eleven tracks. After building carefully crafted musical and vocal textures across the first ten tracks, the disc winds down on a mellow but upbeat note with the instrumental track “Five”.
Puente has said in a number of interviews that his next objective, after completing his five year plan, is to stop being so “studiocentric” and to start touring and playing live.
My Brothers Banned
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
In keeping with The Toy Dolls ever rotating lineup (Wikipedia cites the band as having 14 different drummers and 12 different bassists); this time out mainman Michael “Olga” Algar (guitars/vocals) is joined by Tom “Goober” Blyth (bass) and Duncan Redmonds (drums). While other bands might have changed their sound by adding musicians from two established Fat Wreck Chords acts (GooberPatrol and Snuff, respectively) to the lineup, in this case, it might be these later bands that were influenced by The Toy Dolls. Continuing to stay on the same path they have been on for the last three decades, The Album After The Last One stays true to The Toy Dolls’ roots. The band blasts through eleven new tracks (though “Credit Crunch Christmas” had previously surfaced as a Christmas single last year), a predominately instrumental rockabilly into and outro (entitled “Olgamental Intro” and “Olgamental Outro”, natch) along with three acoustic bonus tracks.
Olga has a distinctive voice (which is very comparable to The DIckies’ Leonard Graves Phillips) but he also plays a mean guitar. The new rhythm section plays right alongside Olga with a locomotive power that is sure to get the circle pit going. Song lyrics range from tales of working class life (“Sciatica Sucks “) to the topical (“Decca’s Drinking Dilemma”) to the absurd (“Dirty Doreen”) and there is even a political number on the disc (“Gordon Brown Gets Me Down”) where I don’t remember politics being a theme on discs past. One of the strongest tracks on the disc is “B.E.E.R”, about which Olga writes in his review of the new disc: “Really difficult to judge a song when its not my own! Anyways, it's a good old Rock n’ Roll tune! What more can I say! With honest Tommy Goober lyrics! Some nice guitar bits too”.
Most of the songs follow the same formula of utilizing bratty cartoonish vocals from Olga to build up to melodic gang-vocal choruses. The one (minor) break from the formula is “Don’t Drive Yer Car Up Draycott Avenue”, sung by Duncan Redmonds, which sounds like an old-school Green Day track. The disc closes with Olga’s acoustic reinterpretation of three tracks from the band’s back catalogue: "Firey Jack" (from Dig That Groove Baby), "Cloughy Is A Bootboy" (from Wakey Wakey) and "The Sphinx Stinks" (from Fat Bob’s Feet).
The Toy Dolls
Monday, June 25, 2012
The disc starts out strong with the one-two punch of the upbeat rockers “The Weight of the Sea” and “Give Up”. While these are two of the perfectly crafted indie-rock songs on the disc, the tight hooks hide the reflective and somewhat melancholy lyrics that come out on the slower-burning numbers. The band’s website describes Autogeography as “a collection of rock songs about the idea of ‘home’ – the struggle to find one, and above all, the indelible connection between identity and place.” This struggle is most evident on “I’m Going to Bend”, where vocalist Paul Basile sounds resigned to the fate of bending and breaking in whatever emotional storm he is going through. Among the other slow-burning numbers are ”Your Worst Nightmare”, which starts off being driven by Basile’s vocals and soaring slide guitar work before heading into the big bluesy back-half of the song. Other tracks in this vein include “Oh, My Home, My Ohio” and “Big Black Sea”, where this later track ends in a two-minute march to cacophony before giving way to a barely breathing reed organ and delicate piano line.
Paul Basile is playing a solo show at Rockwood Music Hall on July 19th (Free admission). Following this, Great Elk is playing a handful of West Coast shows in August – complete tour dates are below.
Aug. 04 - White Eagle, Portland, OR
Aug. 05 - Columbia City Theater, Seattle, WA
Aug. 07 - Amnesia, San Francisco, CA
Aug. 08 - Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, CA
Aug. 09 - 1078 Gallery, Chico, CA
Aug. 11 - Cozmic Pizza, Eugene, OR
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Featuring former and current members of Seattle acts Himsa, The Daves, Meices, Whiskey Tango and Good To Die labelmates Absolute Monarchs, Deadkill's debut 7" was released by Seattle-based Good To Die Records at the end of May. The potent release bears four anthems that surge with energy fans of Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, Poison Idea and the Hookers should be immediately attached to.
Deadkill's next live throwdown will be at Seattle's annual Capitol Hill Block Party, the massive three-day festival featuring 100 regional and national acts performing on a range of stages. Deadkill will play on Friday, July 20th at 4:15pm on the Neumos Stage alongside Black Breath, labelmates Absolute Monarchs and Sandrider and more.
Vocals - Bryan Krieger
Guitar - Kirby C. Johnson
Guitar - Michael Stubz
Bass - Michael Loftus
Drums - Shawn Trudeau
G.G. Allin’s latest archival DVD, Blood, Shit, and Fears (MVD Visual), has made me rethink my original impressions. The disc features five shows with the Murder Junkies – three from November 1991 and two from 1993. With all three of the 1991 shows, I can finally see how G.G.’s reputation was built. These shows are electric and G.G. is coherent, focused and dangerous. The only thing that I can compare this to is the DOA: A Right of Passage footage of the Sex Pistols on their first US tour, storming through the Bible Belt South.
The first show was filmed at the Antenna Club in Memphis, TN – you have to wonder what the club owner was thinking by setting up tables and chairs as G.G. made short work of that. He sets the tone for the show by getting the blood flowing early by banging on his forehead with both a beer bottle and his microphone and follows this by playing most of the set from the floor of the club. It is amusing to watch the audience reactions as a bleeding, sh*t covered, naked G.G. gets close to them. (One person pushed G.G. from behind and then ran). It might have been amusing to see the audience reactions when G.G. sh*ts on-stage and shoves the microphone up his *ss but the point of this disc isn’t to ‘gross out’ the viewer, but to capture G.G. Allin at his rawest and most visceral.
The three 1991 shows each run about 15-20 minutes each (all are complete sets) and the other two sets (Fupped Duck, New Orleans and Orpheus Theater, Knoxville) run similar to the Antenna Club show. Each of the shows was filmed with a reasonably still single camera and the audio is as clear as I would expect G.G. Allin to sound in a punk rock dive.
The mood shifts significantly on the two 1993 shows – G.G. appears less coherent and more violent. The clubs seem larger than the ones played on the 1991 tour and audience seems to be expecting a ‘freak show’…which seemed to further enrage G.G. G.G. plays both shows in his bikini underwear so there is none of the “on the edge” mayhem of the 1991 but rather out-and-out violence and hostility on both sides of the stage. G.G. seems particularly annoyed at the Metro show by the repeated calls of “The Mentors” and “El Duce” and demands for him to sh*t onstage to which he responds that he doesn’t owe anyone sh*t and they can meet him backstage if they want debauchery. This isn’t the tightly honed band from 1991 but rather a band that had lost their way and is now playing to a crowd of meatheads and frat-jocks who want to see G.G. before he dies. The video portion of this footage is a good bit shakier than the 1991 shows but I can imagine that the hostility of the crowd often caused the cameraman to dive for cover.
This material isn't for the faint of heart but Blood, Shit, and Fears does a pretty reasonable job of documenting G.G. Allin's final two tours and proving that the stories of the tours weren't just myths and exaggerations.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon Release "Early in the Morning" to Benefit Orphans of the 3.11 Tsunami
YOKOKIMTHURSTON Track List:
01 - I Missed You Listening
02 - Running the Risk
03 - I Never Told You, Did I?
04 - Mirror Mirror
05 - Let's Get There
06 - Early in the Morning
An advanced single "Early in the Morning" from Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon, and Thurston Moore was just released as a limited edition vinyl pressing (ltd. to 1,000 copies). The one-sided 10" runs 14 minutes and has a beautiful etching by Yoko on flipside. Profits will be donated to Ashinaga Rainbow House to aid orphans of the 3.11 tsunami.
Valentine is heavily atmospheric and Compton sings in a heavy baritone (think Pete Steele) and the disc’s eleven tracks are a mix of originals and eclectic covers. Starting with the covers – Compton delivers a version of NIN’s “Hurt” that is very similar to Johnny Cash’s version, his version of The Motels’ “Metro” is a great deconstruction of the new wave chestnut and he delivers a strong, industrial-flavored version of BOC’s “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”.
Moving over to the originals, the first half of the disc is predominately comprised of industrial tunes that are layered on top of a dark gothic landscape. The disc starts with the track “but for the beating…” which has a moody synth intro that is delivered in the same style as Marilyn Manon’s cover of “Sweet Dreams”. As the disc kicks into high-gear, the strong guitar leads and clanging industrial sounds are added to the synths as Compton kicks into the Satanist themed “My Darkest Dream”. About midway through the disc, Compton switches gears and heads into darkwave cabaret that is reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s Eat Me, Drink Me. The emotional “bite” comes out on songs like “Yet Another Stain” (with lyrics “…home is where the hurt is”) and “Valentine”. The disc ends where it started, with “…of my heart” – which is the conclusion of the leadoff track. Of the disc’s two bonus tracks, “Veteran of the Psychic War” is a winner but “Howl” is a forgettable c*ck-rock tribute to (presumably) oral sex.
In a recent interview with Indie Music Digest, Compton said that the next step for Frostbite will be to “get a stable band together and get on a stage”.
Friday, June 22, 2012
For anyone who hasn't (yet) heard PushMethod, below is one of their more recent videos:
From the band's press release:
Graffiti engulfs many of the abandoned warehouses and brick walls that house New York's music scene. In an effort to stake ownership in their work, artists "tag" their paintings, crediting their art by leaving a distinct signature. These signatures are works of art in themselves, magnifying how vital it is to leave your own mark.
PushMethod's music is paralleling this process on the inside of these paint-plastered venues. Their sound is sprayed with colors from Tavis Sage Eaton, who has shared the stage with Wu Tang Clan, Nas, Rae Kwon, Fabulous, and Fat Joe. They're fused with the vibrancy of Michael Dustin "Dusty" Youree, whose inspiration stems from not only the multiple theater tours including Pipin, Alice in Wonderland, and Amadeus, which he began at the age of four but also the impact that the Beatles made on him, most notably John Lennon - so much so that he organized an annual widely attended tribute to him in Central Park. It is here that Tavis and Dusty began working together.
The collision of Tavis and Dusty expresses one consistent sound that bursts with the hearts of both, showing off strategically plotted percussion and guitar riffs and symphonic stylings built to move your body and soul. With hip-hop infused vocals and socio-political lyrics are worth taking to the streets, and their energy not only keeps you engaged, but is kinetic enough to make you jump.
They're fueled by a shared hunger to leave a personal stamp on music scene, acting as agents of change through personal catharsis. Their musical identity is rooted in their individual ideologies, which intersect at keystones of introspection.
Youree's core draws on an innate human need to fight for what's right, promoting love, compassion, peace and forgiveness, rather than preaching it. Principles formed by leaders from all walks of life, ranging from Gandhi to JFK.
These beliefs are spliced with Tavis' therapeutic look at music, an outlet he's plugged into to muscle through a rocky childhood. Music functioned as a release for Eaton at a young age. His childhood witnessed things that a child shouldn't have to. Eaton looked to the background music to cope, clinging to albums from Al Green and Led Zepplin as an escape. After planting his hip- hop roots at high school lunch tables, Eaton joined the military, where he first truly realized the definition of family. He grasped onto negative influences shortly after, getting mixed up with a crowd of graffiti vandalizers, identifying himself by the tag "C-Red Sage." He soon traded in his spray can for a microphone, satisfying his screams for attention through music.
As the lives of these bandmates-turned-roommates continue to intertwine, their music continues to ooze with personality and passion. With a recently released album and a new video on the way, the boys of PushMethod are continuing to make a big impact in 2012.
I’m somewhat curious who, what or where Everest Cale is…
Getting back on point, Everest Cale are South Carolina-to-Brooklyn transplants who play roots rock in a similar vein to Kevn Kinney and Connor Oberst. The band’s debut EP "Beast" in due out September 4th and the band has a few summer shows booked in advance of the release of the CD. The first is at Pianos on July 24th and the second is August 22nd at Bryant Park, as part of the Park’s “After Work” concert series.
The music on new EP’s five tracks (22 minutes) has a foundation in classic-rock based “country rock” but it is interesting to note that a couple members of Everest Cale previously played with the barroom stompers The Bourbon Brothers as there are traces of “whiskey rock” and 50’s style guitar twang that creep into Everest Cale’s music. Adding to the music is vocalist Brett Treacy’s distinctive and emotive vocals. Similar to Kevin Kinney’s work with Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, Treacy’s vocals pulls the listener into the music without diluting the impact of the band’s carefully constructed aural textures and crossing over into singer/songwriter territory. Songs range from the somber reflections on past romantic hurts (“Beast”, “Goodbye”) to up-tempo roots-rock (“Soaked”) to the joyous tale of coming home (“Place We Know is Home”).
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Changing Modes recently released their fifth disc, In Flight, and the band’s music incorporates a veritable stew of musical sounds and influences. Similar to Quix*o*tic, Changing Modes’ music jumps across a range of styles: from late-night torch songs to punk to 70’s funk and bubblegum pop. While one can hear elements of the jagged art-punk of the early B-52s, the sultry cool of Blondie, and the slinky synth-driven dance club beats of Luscious Jackson along with the driving punk of bands like X and the Dead Kennedys (the twisting buzzsaw guitar licks in "Ghost in the Backseat" could have come straight from East Bay Ray's guitar), the band is able to mold all of these sounds into a disc whose sound is both recognizable and distinctive (…but not derivative). Adding to all of this are stellar vocals from the band’s two lead singers Wendy Griffiths and Jen Rondeau which are backed with rich vocal harmonies. In keeping with Changing Modes consistently changing music, drummer David Oromaner takes lead vocals on the slow-burning song “Blue”.
The music of New York City based rock band, Changing Modes, began quietly in the mid-90’s when the principal songwriter of the band, Wendy Griffiths (vocals, keyboards, bass) started making her “bedroom tapes.” She says she had no intention of making these songs public. “They were like art songs with very unusual rock beats,” Yuzuru Sadashige (bass, guitar) recalls. “She programmed very complex layers of accompaniment on her Yamaha SY77, then sang along to record onto her $30 Sears tape recorder, very LoFi, you would hear house noise and car horns in the background, but they were extremely interesting and totally unique.” After a series of lineup changes a few years back, the band's lineup has solidified with the core duo of Wendy and Yuzuru now joined by Jen Rondeau (Vocals, Keyboards, Theremin), Grace Pulliam (Vocals, Percussion, Keyboards) and David Oromaner (Drums, Trumpet, Vocals).
Changing Modes' next show is at Local 269 on July 5th as part of the CBGB Festival.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
I've (almost) given up trying to predict which bands could "break out" of the local NYC scene but...Town Hall could be one of those bands.
Town Hall caught my ear with their EP "Sticky Notes and Paper Scraps" which was a mellow "late night" listen and the band recorded a series of eclectic cover between the release of the EP and their full-length debut Roots and Bells (which came out April 15th). I thought the series of cover tunes was over but the band just released their take on R. Kelly's 'Text Me'.
Upcoming Town Hall Shows:
- June 23 - Littlefield, Brooklyn, NY
- June 24 - Ace Hotel (20 W 29th St), NYC
Monday, June 04, 2012
Two years after Metal Blade issued a deluxe 3-CD reissue of Fates Warning’s 1991 CD Parallels, the label has followed this up with a three-disc reissue of 1994’s Inside Out.
On the bonus CD are five tracks that were recorded live in Germany when the band was opening for Dream Theater along with seven demos/unreleased tracks. The live show consists of three tracks from Inside Out and two tracks from Parallels. The demos present early versions of five of the studio disc’s ten tracks along with a rough mix of “Monument” and the previously unreleased track “Circles”. The demos are great as they show a rawer edge to the songs than what ended up on the final studio disc. Particularly delectable is the instrumental version of "Face the Fear" and this demo version runs almost two minutes longer than the studio version. "Circles" is a solid track and it sounds completely produced so this song would have been a welcome addition to the original issue of Inside Out. On a humerous note, there is a 20 second snippet of an aborted take at the end of "Circles". (Note: For any completists out there – three of the five demos were previously released on a 2006 reissue of Inside Out).
Review copies of bonus DVDs rarely seem to circulate for review so I haven’t seen “Inside Out Live”. Based on the track list, I’m assuming these are various live tracks from different shows (in comparison – the bonus live DVD included in the Parallels reissue was a complete show). What is interesting is that “Island in the Stream” appears to be from the Parallels-lineup reunion tour in 2010.
Kudos to Metal Blade for keeping this reissue affordable as Amazon is selling the 3-disc set new for $15.92.
CD2 – LIVE in DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY February 11th 1995
Outside Looking In
Down to the Wire
The Eleventh Hour
Point Of View
Face The Fear
Outside Looking In (demo)
Pale Fire (demo)
Shelter Me (demo)
Island In the Stream (demo)
Face The Fear (demo)
Monument (rough mix)
DVD – INSIDE OUT LIVE
Outside Looking In 1994/95
Pale Fire 1993/94
The Strand 1994
Shelter Me 1993
Island In The Stream 2010
Down To The Wire 1994/95
Face The Fear 1994/95
Afterglow Slide Show
Live In Still Water 1994
Through Different Eyes 1995
Guardian (Mike Portnoy drums) 1994
Shades of Heavenly Death 1995
MTV Europe Interview 1995
Eye to Eye 1994/95
Face The Face Of Fear 1994
Don't Follow Me 1994
Shortest Fates Warning Show Ever. 1994
Guardian (Arch/ Alder duet) 1994
There are days that I can be too much of a purist as, while this is a great package at an affordable price point, there are some aspects of this reissue that I was disappointed with. To start – Fates Warning was playing seven-eight song sets when opening for Dream Theater. I don’t know whether this was just a short set or songs were cut from this reissue – I’m guessing the later as the band seemed to consistently close their set with “Monument” for this run of shows. Here is the set list from another night on the German tour:
1. Life in Still Water
2. Outside Looking in
3. Down to the Wire
4. The Eleventh Hour
5. Point of View
6. Face the Fear
7. Eye to Eye
When reviewing reissues, I generally don’t attempt to review the original studio album but…I don’t think I heard this disc when it originally came out. This is a decent disc but it is quickly noticeable that it is missing the “wow” factor that made Parallels great. “Face the Fear”, “Monument” and “Down to the Wire” are memorable and strong tracks but the rest of the disc goes by in a pleasant blur without leaving a lasting impression. You have to wonder if the band was suffering from fatigue as guitarist Frank Aresti and bassist Joe DiBiase left the band after this disc’s release. In a 2001 interview with FatesWarning.com, DiBiase said “Parallels…was our peak as far as being a cohesive unit, musically and personally. For what ever reason after that album it started to become more like a job and not as much fun.”
Friday, June 01, 2012
DOWNLOAD: Joe Walsh - "Lucky That Way" (w/ Ringo Starr on Drums)
Joe Walsh will be performing tracks from his upcoming album release Analog Man (out 6/5 on Fantasy Records/Concord) on Friday, June 8th at J&R Electronics (23 Park Row). Analog Man marks Joe’s first solo release in 2 decades.
“It’s been 20 years and I have a lot to say,” said Walsh. “These songs come from the heart.” Walsh, best known for his powerful guitar licks, joined the Eagles in 1976 and is credited for bringing a harder rock sound to the band with the acclaimed Hotel California, The Long Run and Eagles Live. A singer-songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Walsh has entertained for more than four decades, not only as a solo artist, but as part of admired bands like The James Gang and Barnstorm.
As a self-proclaimed Analog Man, also the album name and title track, Walsh refers playfully to the new digital age; one in which he has adapted to, but notes in the song, “I am what I am – I’m an Analog Man.” Walsh developed the album over the last 10 years, drawing on personal experiences to breathe life into each track. “I just really feel like it’s all come together and finally I feel like a complete person and a complete musician,” said Walsh. “I think there is some confidence in there that I never had. That’s what I was hiding.” Walsh credits his wife of four years, Marjorie, for encouraging him to be the man and artist he is today and fondly dedicates this album to her.
The 10-track album was produced by Jeff Lynne and Joe Walsh with Tommy Lee James co-writing some of the tracks. “Lucky That Way,” one of Walsh’s favorites off the album, speaks to the extraordinary life he’s lived, even through the hurdles, and features Ringo Starr, his real life brother-in-law, on drums. The song ironically serves as a mature sequel to Walsh’s famed “Life’s Been Good” and for Walsh, life is just that.